WASHINGTON, April 27: A top Al Qaeda commander, who led operations in Afghanistan and plotted the assassination of President Gen Pervez Musharraf, has been taken into US custody, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi, who was taken to Guantanamo Bay within the past week, was intercepted as he was trying to reach Iraq to manage Al Qaeda operations and possibly plot attacks against western targets outside Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

“He also in recent years was involved in plots to assassinate perceived opponents of Al Qaeda to include Pakistan President Musharraf as well as other officials,” he said.

Al-Iraqi was held by the CIA before being turned over to US military authorities, said Whitman. A CIA spokesman said the interrogation methods it used in holding al-Iraqi “were legal”.

President George W. Bush in September announced that all high value prisoners being held by the CIA at secret overseas detention centres had been transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

A US intelligence official said al-Iraqi had been captured late last year.

Whitman said al-Iraqi also met Al Qaeda members in Iran.

“I would think of him in relation to the plot against Musharraf as someone who had a leadership or guiding role,” he said.

Recently, he associated with leaders of extremist groups allied with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Taliban, Pentagon said.—AFP

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